It is hard to remember, or even believe today, the absolute hysteria that accompanied Obama's nomination. Even folks who should have known better were sucked in. I seemed to be the only surly one that day who found the adulation, the near Imperial coronation, sickening. Here is an excerpt. I stand by it six years later:
Folks are excited about Obama because, in essence, they don't know what he stands for, and thus can read into him anything they want. Not since the breathless coverage of Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault has there been so much attention to something where we had no idea of what was inside. My bet is that the result with Obama will be the same as with the vault.
There is some sort of weird mass self-hypnosis going on, made even odder by the fact that a lot of people seem to know they are hypnotized, at least at some level. I keep getting shushed as I make fun of friends' cult behavior watching the proceedings today, as if by jiggling someone's elbow too hard I might break the spell. Never have I seen, in my lifetime, so much emotion invested in a politician we know nothing about. I guess I am just missing some gene that makes the rest of humanity receptive to this kind of stuff, but just for a minute snap your fingers in front of your face and say "do I really expect a fundamentally different approach from a politician who won his spurs in .... Chicago? Do I really think the ultimate political outsider is going to be the guy who bested everyone at their own game in the Chicago political machine?"
Well, the spell will probably take a while to break in the press, if it ever does -- Time Magazine is currently considering whether it would be possible to put Obama on the cover of all 52 issues this year -- but thoughtful people already on day 1 should have evidence that things are the same as they ever were, just with better PR. For God sakes, as his first expenditure of political capital, Obama is pushing for a trillion dollar government spending bill that is basically one big pork-fest that might make even Ted Stevens blush, a hodge-podge of every wish-list of leftish lobbyists that has been building up for eight years. I will be suitably thrilled if the Obama administration renounces some of the creeping executive power grabs of the last 16 years, but he has been oddly silent about this. It seems that creeping executive power is a lot more worrisome when someone else is in power.
It has been suggested by some that today is less a cultish corronation but a big victory party in the battle against racism. Well, I am certainly willing to accept it on those terms. I have been arguing for years that it is time to declare victory on the worst aspects of race and gender discrimination, and move on to problems of interest to all races (like individual freedom or giving kids options to escape crappy public schools). Unfortunately, I fear that too many folks in power are dependent on the race/gender/class wars continuing, so you and I may think we are declaring victory, but those with power over our lives have not.